Round 18 was a round of 3.5 upsets. It opened in Sydney with the “fiercest” local derby rugby league has to offer. Souths reverted to their mean performance of the year and Easts, minus a few Origin stars, managed to keep a lid on their opponent’s dysfunctional attack. I think under normal circumstances, the Roosters would have brought it home more comfortably but the Bunnies were odds-on favourites after last week’s thrashing.
As of the time of writing, people were still complaining about the lopsided penalty count in favour of the Panthers, who hosted the Sea Eagles on Saturday. Ignoring the ‘it’s just raising revenue’-style of argument, Manly also committed more errors and missed two conversions. Ill-discipline is one thing but losing to Penrith and ending the excellent run was an unpleasant surprise, especially with His Saltiness playing. Down in Melbourne, the Eels sprinted out to an early lead over the Storm and never looked back. By halftime, they were up three tries to one. Without their stars, Melbourne were unable to get back in the contest, going down to Parramatta.
Sunday brought the most exciting game, which is surprising considering it involved the 14th placed Bulldogs against the last placed Knights. Newcastle edged out to an almost unassailable lead at Belmore with ten minutes to go but due to a mix of poor play and bad luck that is unique to the Knights, managed to fall behind with fifteen seconds remaining. A short kick-off and a wayward attempt at penalty goal sealed the defeat for Newcastle. Canterbury celebrated like they’d done something significant but really they should have won the game by half time and never lost the lead.
Round 18 Results
Sydney City 14 (12-5) d South Sydney 12 (6-10)
Penrith 16 (7-9) d Manly 8 (10-6)
Parramatta 22 (10-7) d Melbourne 6 (13-4)
Canterbury 20 (7-10) d Newcastle 18 (2-14)